Good weeks have been few and far between at Boeing for some time, but the past few days have proven particularly challenging as the airframer works to move beyond its various issues.

Most notably, the death of whistle-blower John Barnett generated headlines around the world.

But among the airframer’s customers, United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby this week acknowledged that the carrier is considering an Airbus A321neo order to replace previously ordered Boeing 737 Max 10s – certification of which remains subject to delays.

“As much as I would like those deliveries, this is not a 12-month issue,” Kirby says of Boeing. “This is a two-decade issue.”

Speaking during the same JP Morgan conference, Southwest Airlines chief executive Bob Jordan cited Boeing 737 Max delivery delays as he described the carrier’s highly constrained 2024 growth plan.

“Fix the culture, whatever is at work here,” Jordan says of Boeing. “We all need Boeing stronger two years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. And that takes precedent over delivery delays. Boeing needs to become a better company – and the deliveries will follow that.”


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Boeing itself released data this week showing the pace of 737 Max deliveries slowed again in February amid intense scrutiny over product quality, although it did accelerate deliveries to the key China market.

The 27 aircraft it handed over in February was flat month-on-month and slower than the year-ago pace.

In a memo to staff, the airframer separately outlined steps it is taking to address quality and safety concerns raised by two recent investigations into its 737 Max assembly site in Renton.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Stan Deal said his team is working directly with specific employees flagged by investigators and has stepped up its quality inspections.

The airframer also confirmed to federal accident investigators this week that it has no records of work completed last year on a 737 Max 9 door plug that failed during an Alaska Airlines flight, nor does it know which employees performed the work.

Alaska Airlines itself said this week that the grounding of its 737 Max 9s following the door plug blow-out resulted in lost profits of at least $150 million.

A tough few days for an airframer that acknowledges the scale of work it has left to do.